Are support agents not allowed to answer direct questions?


#1

I just had an email back and forth with Soylent Customer Care today. In one of my last emails, I asked several direct questions.

The agent did not respond to the questions directly. They sort of covered some of what I asked, but not very well. Their grammar was bad enough I had to make some assumptions about what I think they meant…

I have noticed similar behavior with other companies support agents. I ask a direct question or two, and I don’t receive direct answers to those questions.

In any case, is this the agents fault, or the fault of Soylent not giving agents freedom to answer questions directly?

I’m asking here because it seems like the best place to have a decent discussion. I don’t want to make assumptions about Soylent without having a sincere, polite, conversation about things.


#2

Sometimes specific questions are beyond the knowledge base of our agents. They are trained to handle the most frequent range of issues, so sometimes you may stump them and they’ll do their best to deal with what they can. There are also certain things that they aren’t able to discuss with customers. Without knowing what you were specifically asking about, it is hard to know why they were not as helpful as you would have hoped. That’s where we can help here (sometimes)!

Additionally, customer service does track all queries and as we see certain questions rise in frequency, we provide additional training to cover those answers as well.

Let me know if I can help.

– John


#3

I’m fine with an agent not being able to answer my question. But I expect them to be honest about it. Not to just ignore my questions.

So, when I received my latest shipment of powder, I only received 1 box instead of the 3 I ordered. I was seeking clarification on what exactly happened. I’d expect support agents to have the information needed available, or at least to know who to ask about it.

Here is what I asked:

So, um, could you clarify a few things?

You are out of version 1.8 of the powder, that’s why I didn’t receive my
full order. Right?

If so, why did you not notify me of the shortage beforehand so I could
choose how I wanted to deal with it? I rely on having enough Soylent,
running out is something I need to plan and budget for.

If I switch to a different flavor for my missing 14 pouches, will you be
charging me extra?

What flavors are in stock?

When will 1.9 be in stock?

This is how the agent replied:

Thanks for following up! We can confirm that we have sent you the full order as you can see on the slip and regrettably we are unable to locate why it was missing since we have limited control over a shipment once orders are in transit. I’m very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your understanding.

We will add charge to reflect with the price of Original Powder. However, if you prefer a refund, we will be happy to process it fully.

Also, we currently don’t have a concrete timeline as to when the Powder 1.9 will be available but we’ll make sure to update you as soon as possible.

Thanks for your patience. Please let me know if you have further concerns.

As you can see, they covered some of what I asked, but not all. And they did not respond to my questions directly.

When asking questions like I did, I expect to receive direct answers. Ideally I’d hope the person replying would quote me, and answer each question under the quote.


#4

Let’s see if I can help fill in some of the blanks:

You are out of version 1.8 of the powder, that’s why I didn’t receive my
full order. Right?

Looks like we shipped your entire order, but some of it was lost in transit, so the CS team has offered to refund you because we can’t be certain what happened to it after it left our warehouses (there might be some part of this conversation I’m missing, but that’s what I’m reading here).

You are right, they did not answer your question about 1.8 being out of stock directly, but they provided the accurate reason for you not receiving your full order.

If I switch to a different flavor for my missing 14 pouches, will you be
charging me extra?

This looks to be where they offer the price of Original if you choose to switch to Cacao as a replacement for your lost shipment

What flavors are in stock?

This one they missed, but I’m guessing because they felt it was clear that Original powder is not out of stock, and rather that part of the order was lost in transit.

When will 1.9 be in stock?

This was answered here:

Also, we currently don’t have a concrete timeline as to when the Powder 1.9 will be available but we’ll make sure to update you as soon as possible.

Hope this clears things up. Please let me know if you have further questions!

– John


#5

Same story here. Took 8 emails to get 1 basic, direct question, answered. Seems like things are going downhill recently.


#7

Thanks for the clarification on my questions.

But, to bring it back to the main point of my original post, Are your agents told not to answer direct questions? Or not to admit they just don’t know something?

The reason I suspect this is because I’ve seen similar behavior from other companies support. I ask a simple, direct, question, and they just don’t reply to it.


#8

I am not sure what our agents are permitted to respond to specifically, or how they are told to respond when they do not know the answer to something, but I do know they are trained to help customers resolve their product related issues as rapidly as possible. Let us know here if you have specific questions, as we can often be more candid than they can!
– John


#9

@soylent_team
May I suggest a simple solution. 14 pouches were lost in shipment. How about
We are so sorry you did not receive your full order. While we research this issue we are sending you 14 replacement pouches. Thank you for continuing to be a loyal Soylent customer.
If I can be of further help pease reach out to me directly.
Simple straightforward good customer service.


#10

I have had excellent customer service from Soylent. A couple months ago they sent me the bottles instead of powder. I got on chat and they sent me my correct order within minutes. They said I could do whatever I like with the incorrect order, so it didn’t cost me anything.


#11

A couple of months ago, I was working with Soylent support regarding an apparent bug in their old site in which managing orders wasn’t fully possible (such as deleting a subscription).

After some back-and-forth with the rep, they ended up cancelling the wrong subscription after I’d given them the explicit subscription ID to remove, which also removed the grandfather pricing I’d had on it. They ultimately made things correct for the next order of that subscription, but the whole handling of the situation and needlessly lengthy email thread left a bad taste in my mouth (coincidentally like some of my recent Strawberry bottles).

I will say that after I reported my personal experience with the rancid Strawberry bottles, the rep there did handle things quickly with regards to a replacement order, though I wish they could have given more info about what exactly is being done for the quality control issue. I care more about that than a single complimentary replacement order.


#12

Good idea! Will check in with our CS team to see what their standards are here.
– John


#13

Judging from my many years of customer service experience, dealing with customer service can be something of a crap shoot. Pay for customer service reps is not particularly high but turnover is high. My advice for someone who is having a bad customer experience is try to talk (or write) to someone else, even a supervisor. I think that Soylent has good CSRs in general, but you might get unlucky. It’s not that whoever you deal with is a bad person, it’s that CSRs are not always well informed about what is going on, and getting correct information sometimes makes a rep feel like they are on the back of the moon. I used to pretend that customers and I were in a conspiracy together against the company to get customers good service! With that kind of attitude, I became a boss.


#14

I say give the customer service rep a break, it is not necessarily bad customer service that they did not answer your questions the way you would have liked, it could have been a new person who is just getting used to the job, or it could be someone who simply communicates in a different way from your expectations. And overlooking a question happens, it is not a conspiracy.